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Roby announces USDA program to assist farmers impacted by COVID-19

Monday, Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) informed constituents in an email that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday “Announced they are providing $19 billion in relief funds to support American farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by COVID-19.”

“The Second District is home to thousands of acres of fertile farmland, and I’m glad to see help is on the way for these men and women who work tirelessly to put food on the table for our American families,” Roby said.

The Alabama Farmers Federation welcomed news from USDA outlining relief programs for farmers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We appreciate President Trump, Secretary Perdue and USDA acting quickly to help farmers,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Direct payments will help the family businesses who provide our food and fiber deal with lower commodity prices and market disruption caused by COVID-19. The purchase of farm products destined for food services shut down by the virus will not only help our farmers, but it will also provide nutritious meals for families in need.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) during President Donald J. Trump’s (R) press briefing on Friday. This USDA program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Perdue said. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”

CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities. The program includes two major elements to achieve these goals.

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The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19. Many farms and ranches supplied the restaurant industry which is serving a fraction of the customers that it normally serves.

USDA Purchase and Distribution: USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. We will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
You can read more about USDA’s program at their website.

COVID-19 has infected 792,518 Americans and killed 42,514. The forced economic shutdown to fight the spread of the virus has left 22 million Americans unemployed and shuttered thousands of businesses, many of them permanently.

Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Roby is serving in her fifth term, but is retiring at the end of this year.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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